A rainy day in Stoneybatter, enjoyed by juvenile herring gulls: probably raised locally, the birds take advantage of temporary pools on a flat roof to bathe and preen, just a couple of metres from my bathroom, in this video
There is not a blade of grass, nor a square inch of soil, let alone a tree, on the street where I live in Dublin’s Stoneybatter. Our sturdy redbrick terraces open directly on to concrete pavements, and the small back yards are also concrete. The natural world was not high on the agenda of the Victorians who created such housing projects for the skilled working classes. Gardens and tree-lined streets were a luxury, reserved for the new middle-class suburbs.
Nevertheless, nature has found footholds here, though I didn’t notice some of them for a long time.
You tend to see only what you already know about. I had long been interested in birds, so I watched herring gulls beginning to nest on our rooftops. I heard the robin that sometimes seemed to sing right through the night from a patch of garden lovingly created by a neighbour on nearby “waste” land.
Only when I became interested in plants about 15 years ago did I start to notice the diversity of species exploiting tiny niches on the street.
This article appeared in The Irish Times on 20 January, 2018. Read the whole piece here
Articles & Blog
Articles on the environment; Spanish, Catalan and Basque politics; travel; culture; and other subjects; interspersed with personal reflections and images